This is going to serve as a little reminder that credit card companies are just like aaaany other business, and we are all their valuable customers that they would prefer not to lose. They give us money to play around with, so they become like somewhat of an authority in our minds – and that can become intimidating. What’s important is to remember that they rely on us for their survival. Just think about all of the annoying mailings that you get to try and entice you to switch over to other cards. You’re important to keep as a customer, which means they will often do a lot more than you think to keep it that way.
It’s surprising to me how few people have ever called up their credit card companies to make sure they’re getting the best deal. Especially if you’re someone who charges a lot to your card and doesn’t pay it off in full every month – a lower interest rate and lower fees could mean significant savings over time. So here’s how to sweet talk your credit card company to save money:
We have all at some point gotten some big shiny envelope in the mail screaming that you can take the bill for all of those overpriced shoes and delicious meals you’ve purchased and transfer them onto a 0% interest card. The great thing about these offers is that they serve as amazing ammunition to get your own interest rate lowered without having to go through the hassle of moving things around and potentially facing crazy rates once the intro offer ends.
All that you need to do is call the number on the back of your card and let them know that you’ve received several of these offers, and you’re considering making the switch. Let them know that you would be more than happy to remain their customer if they were able to give you a more reasonable interest rate. It can be tempting to ask things like, “Are you sure?” or “Is there anything else that I can do?” but all these do is give the rep an easy out to say no. Instead, TELL the rep that you need a lower rate so that you can be more proactive about eliminating your debt. If the first rep that you get says no, ask to speak with a supervisor. If the supervisor is acting like they don’t need you in their lives, tell them to transfer you to someone who can cancel your card…. THIS person will likely be much more willing to retain you. That’s his job.
Keep in mind that many creditors offer “hardship” programs where they’ll reduce your interest and payment for six months to help you to get caught up on debt, but once that time period is up the rate and fees rise again. Also note that if you are currently taking advantage of a prior 0% offer, you could also use this to have your window of time for the low rate extended while you’re still repaying your debt – although if they say no, be careful of transferring again, since many times banks will charge a 3-5% transfer fee.
Why would you want a higher limit you ask? Well despite the obvious reason of wanting to potentially put a large purchase on your card, having a higher limit means that you can shrink your credit utilization (how much of it you’re using), and this will often reflect in a higher credit score. If you have good credit currently and pay your bills on time, then you will probably be able to negotiate this one. Just be careful not to tell them if you need a higher limit due to the fact that you lost your job or because of an emergency since your issuer could actually end up lowering your limit out of fear that you won’t be able to pay.
If you know that you’re going to be paying your bill late, it’s important to get in touch with your credit card company and let them know what your situation is. If it’s that you bought a boob job and your boyfriend won’t give you the money for them or something, you may want to make up a different story. Point is, let them know that you’re having some difficulties and that this is a one-time event (so this only works if you’re generally good at making payments on time). If you’re dealing with a real a-hole who doesn’t want to help you out, let them know that you’ve been looking to switch to a lower interest card, but if they removed the fee you would remain loyal. If they’re really not budging, I would again ask to speak with a manager, but generally this isn’t necessary if you have a decent payment history.
Annual fees are generally in place for cards that give you rewards and other perks, but it’s not impossible to negotiate that it get waived in exchange for a minimum spending commitment. If you know you put a lot of expenses on one particular card, this is definitely an option to save fees which can range from $100-$400/year.
Always remember to write down the name of the person you are dealing with and the time and date of your calls for your records. Never be scared to call up and speak to your credit card company – remember, you’re the customer they want to keep, and the representative you get ahold of is someone who holds credit card debt too! The worst that could happen is they tell you no and continue giving you the same rates and service as before!